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NATO to Increase Forward Presence in East Europe

  • VOA News

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (C) addresses a NATO defense ministers meeting at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Feb. 10, 2016.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (C) addresses a NATO defense ministers meeting at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Feb. 10, 2016.

NATO's secretary general says the alliance's increased “forward presence” in Eastern Europe sends a "clear signal" to any would-be aggressor.

Speaking Wednesday in Brussels before a two-day NATO defense ministers meeting, Jens Stoltenberg said with an obvious reference to Russia, that “NATO will respond as one to any aggression against any ally.”

"I expect the defense ministers to agree to enhance our forward presence in the eastern part of our alliance. This will send a clear signal. NATO will respond as one to any aggression against any ally. We have already significantly enhanced our presence and readiness of our forces," said Stoltenberg.

Since Russia’s seizure of Crimea almost two years ago, the Western military alliance has been increasingly concerned that Moscow could rapidly invade Poland or the Baltic states.

British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon repeated that concern on arrival Wednesday in Brussels.

"NATO faces pressure now on its eastern border and in the Mediterranean and today we need to unite round a clear plan to deploy troops and ships to deter any aggression and the threats that we have seen. And we want to see faster deployment of those troops," he said.

According to Reuters, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Wednesday NATO's military build-up on its eastern flank, the biggest in Europe since the Cold War, was a destabilizing factor designed to contain Russia.

NATO defense ministers are also expected to discuss Turkey’s request for NATO help to slow the influx of migrants into Europe.

Some material for this report came from AP, AFP and Reuters.

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